The protest by doctors’ over the PIC incident left patients stranded at Pims on Thursday. — Online
The protest by doctors’ over the PIC incident left patients stranded at Pims on Thursday. — Online

RAWALPINDI: Young doctors, nurses and paramedics from three government-run in the garrison city as well as the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) protested on Thursday against the attack on the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) by hundreds of lawyers the day before.

In Rawalpindi, staff from Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital protested at BBH and demanded legislation on security for hospital staff, including doctors.

The academic council of the Rawalpindi Medical University also passed a resolution against the lawyers over the PIC attack. The resolution, which is available with Dawn, unanimously condemned “the criminal, unlawful and brutal act of violence by lawyers” at the PIC in Lahore.

Doctors, nurses and paramedics from the three hospitals gathered on the BBH premises led by Young Doctors Association (YDA) BBH President Dr Rana Azeem.

RMU adopts resolution condemning Wednesday’s attack on hospital by lawyers

The protest was initially to be held on Murree Road, but was moved to hospital premises because of the rain. Protesters carried placards and shouted slogans against lawyers.

Doctors’ representatives said the YDA’s stance was clear and that they wanted the Punjab Assembly to legislate for the security of hospitals within 48 hours.

They added that the lawyers involved in the attack should be arrested and their trials referred to the courts for early decisions.

In Islamabad, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other Pims staff protested to condemn the attack on the PIC and express solidarity with the PIC staff and patients.

Young Consultants Association Chairman Dr Asfandyar Khan said it was unfortunate that lawyers had attacked a hospital, something that violated international law even in wartime. He also hoped that senior lawyers would distance themselves from the incident and speak out against it.

Speakers said they would continue to treat patients, even if they were lawyers or their families, because patients could not be treated on the basis of caste, profession or anything else.

They also announced three days of mourning and said that the Pims flag would be lowered.

RMU resolution

Meanwhile, the academic council of RMU and its allied hospitals met on Thursday where the council adopted a resolution condemning the PIC attack. The meeting was chaired by RMU Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Umer and attended by the medical superintendents of HFH, BBH and DHQ, among others.

The resolution said: “The lawyers broke into the emergency ward, breaking the ward’s windows, government and public property. As reported by media the lawyers took over the inside of the hospital and beat up doctors, nurses, and even patients and woman journalists.”

The council expressed concern over the unrest and insecurity that had developed among hospital staff in the wake of increasing incidents of violence across the country in general and in Punjab in particular.

The council demanded the immediate arrest of those involved and for the failure of the local administration to be investigated. It also demanded immediate legislation to protect hospital staff so that they could provide healthcare to those who need it without fear.

Doctors’ associations condemn attack

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad also condemned the attack, which killed four patients.

In a statement, he said that people entered operation theatres where open heart surgeries were ongoing and damaged equipment.He also alleged that the broke into the intensive and cardiac care units, assaulted doctors, paramedics and attendants and threw away patients’ IV sets and oxygen tubes.

“This lawlessness is very shameful for the government. We have been raising our voice for years for the security of doctors and paramedics but our rulers never heard us. PMA demands from the government to arrest all the culprits through CCTV footage and bring them to the court of law. We also demand to immediately take the appropriate measures to secure the hospital,” he said.

Pakistan Islamic Medical Association Central President (PIMA) Prof Mohammad Afzal Mian also condemned the incident.

He said: “PIMA demands immediate arrest of the culprits. It demands a serious investigation into the matter by responsible persons. Dismay has been expressed by the organisation with regard to the human aspect of the incident. This incident and its background expresses moral decay of our society and lack of education which should be thought about seriously now by the nation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2019